February 18th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 7
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Mine receives museum designation
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald photo
A group of tourists visit the Bellevue Underground Mine. The mine received museum designation from the Alberta Museums Association (AMA).
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Last week, the Bellevue Underground Mine received museum designation from the Alberta Museums Association (AMA).
“It’s quite an achievement because it means we uphold professional standards,” said Elaine Hruby, Executive Director of the Bellevue Underground Mine. “Visitors can now look for the easily Recognized Museum logo, which identifies the institutions in the province that offer a quality museum experience.”
Earning this designation demonstrates that the mine is committed to maintaining professional standards of practice and ensuring that it plays an important role within the community, says a release from the AMA.
The mine voluntarily participated in the Recognized Museum Program offered by the AMA, which involved providing evidence to a panel of museum professionals that demonstrated how the institution meets the AMA’s definition of a museum.
Hruby said the application process took a little over two years. In that time they’ve added new storage facilities, modified their exhibits and increased community engagement with a limited staff. The Bellevue Underground Mine employs seven staff in the winter, one in the summer.
Now that it’s recognized, the museum will be promoted by Travel Alberta both online and in their print publications.
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“The more interest it can provide for visitors, the longer they stay in the community and the more money they spend,” said Hruby who added that the mine receives about 17,000 visitors per year.
According to the release, the Bellevue Underground Mine began its life as Western Canadian Collieries in 1903. The mine depended largely on the Canadian Pacific Railway, which purchased coal as fuel to run its steam engines.
With the phasing out of coal fired steam engines in favour of diesel locomotives, the demand for coal dwindled. The loss of coal sales meant that Western Canadian Collieries was no longer a viable company and if finally ceased all operations in January of 1961.
Many years later, the Crowsnest Pass Eco Museum Trust Society was created. The society was established in 1986, with its main project being the Bellevue Underground Mine.
In 1990 the society opened the re-timbered three hundred meters of the underground mine and began giving public tours of the mine from Mid-May until Labour Day.
The many artifacts found on the mine site, and donated objects that were used in the original working colliery form the base of the collection.
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February 18th ~ Vol. 85 No. 7
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